Monday, June 20, 2011


I had my first major bike crash on Saturday morning and while it (fortunately) did not end with serious injuries, it was still pretty scary!

I was planning on a 35ish mile ride and had just turned around to head back home.  I was down near Mount Vernon where the trail is relatively hilly and the path is pretty curvy.  I'm already nervous about downhills and the curvy narrow downhills make me extra nervous.  I'm not sure if this contributed to my wipeout, but I'm sure it's possible.  The paths were also still pretty wet from the rain the night before because there are a ton of trees that block the sun.  I headed down one of the hills and was trying to avoid riding on my brakes, but was pumping them to keep myself from going to fast.  I came around a curve and my wheel went out from under me and I went skidding across the trail.  I'm not sure if I just took the curve at the wrong angle or hit an extra slick patch, but I had no time to think before I was on the ground.  I do know that even if I hadn't been clipped in there would have been nothing I could do to stop it.  My elbow took the brunt on the fall and was really cut up.  I quickly determined that nothing appeared to be broken, but I had a lot of cuts and bruises.  I was really shaken up and wasn't sure I could make it the 15+ miles home.  I walked my bike back up the hill because I knew there was an open grassy area where I could sit down and I was pretty shaky on that short walk.  I ended up calling my mother who said she could come and get me.  Once I had been sitting for a few minutes I felt much better and we decided to meet closer to Old Town because it would be easier for her to pull off the GW Parkway and because it was probably going to take her at least 30 minutes to get to me (so I might as well head back towards her).  I managed to put my chain back on and rode the 4-5 miles to meet her.  Once I started riding again, I realized that I wasn't all that bad off (and probably could have made it all the way home), but I was still glad for the ride.

I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed by the response of other cyclists and runners.  When I still extricating myself from my bike and accessing the damage, a guy rode by up the hill and didn't even slow down.  While I don't know how much help I really needed, it certainly would have been nice for him to at least check!  Multiple people went by when I was sitting by the side of the path in the grassy area, but I was on the phone, so I think it's more understandable that they kept going (though I think I still looked bloody!).  It was not until I walked my bike back down the hill (I knew I could get back on, but I wasn't about to do that hill again) that an older guy stopped and asked if I was okay.  At first when I said I had wiped out he kind of laughed and said "yeah, it's slick out here, I've gone down least twice today," but when he noticed I was pretty shaken up he stayed and made sure that I had my chain back on and was back on my bike before he rode off.

When I got home and got in the shower, I noticed my clothing had covered road rash on my shoulder and thigh and the back of my hand (ripped my gloves, unfortunately) on my right side.  I also had significant bruises the inside of my right knee and left shin (both of which I assume slammed into the bike).  My poor Garmin also took a bit of a beating, but fortunately still appears to be working fine!
a little blurry, but you can see the buttons are scratched up

I am feeling a lot better today, though the big cuts on my elbow are early on in the healing process (and the whole area is still swollen) and my shoulder is sore when I lift my arm.  I did learn that apparently I am not one to get big colorful bruises.  The "bruised" areas on my legs hurt when I touch them, but are not noticeable when I look at them. 

I know that I am very lucky that this wasn't more serious and I would bet a lot of you have been through a lot worse.  I'm not sure exactly when I will get back on my bike, but I know I shouldn't wait too long or I'll start playing too many mental games with myself.  It certainly seems like I will have more mental repercussions from this fall than physical ones.



Wow, this is scary! But, I'm glad you are okay (aside from being a bit shaken up). Take a few days (or weeks) off until you feel comfortable again. I ride with some girlfriends during the week - let me know if you ever want to join!

Liz said...

I'm so sorry about your fall Allison! I actually rode on Mt. Vernon for the first time on Friday and the whole time I was thinking how it isn't a good trail for riding. Way too windy and hilly! I can't even imagine what it is like when it is crowded.
I once had a bad fall in the city and a bunch of pedestrians helped me up right away. Plus when I was walking to my office (still bloody) people asked if I was OK. That's really sad no one stopped to do the same for you.
Don't feel bad if you need a few days or weeks before you get back into the swing of things. That is a really scary experience!

Rachel said...

sorry to hear about the fall! it sounds like it was just a sucky place to be riding, but at least you were ok. although my falls haven't been serious, i'm always a bit shaken up after, too. hope you heal quickly and are able to get back out there!

Beth said...

Sorry! Crashing is always scary, but its good that you were not injured and rode a few more miles before getting a ride home.

oh, and the bruises are definitely there. They're just hiding under the swelling. Fun!

B.o.B. said...

oh man! so sorry to hear about your fall. i would definitely been calling for a car ride home. i'm shaky already so i totally understand. give yourself some time to heal before you jump back on the bike. and yes, the mind can sometimes be worse than the body at that.

LAPT said...

Awww, I'm sorry!!! That sounds SO SCARY. See, this is the reason I will not bike. And I will not do a tri because I'll also drown. You are very brave...and I know you'll pick it right back up! GOOD LUCK getting back out there, and I'm really glad you weren't seriously hurt.

Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

OUCH! I'm glad nothing more serious happened, but I hope your cuts heal up ASAP

Anonymous said...

falling stinks :( you should organize a group short fun ride for your first ride out! it will be a fun easy short FLAT ride :)

Katie said...

aww, you poor thing! i've wiped out down there before, it's so sandy and doesn't dry! hope you are feeling better soon!

Sarah said...

That sounds really scarey! I am glad it ended up not being anything serious, but i know it is still scarey and shakes you up.

When I crashed my bike at constiution and 1st no one asked me if I was ok either. I had blood running down my leg and arms.

Erin @ UntilYouTri said...

OH no!! I am so sorry to hear about your fall. What's crazy is it sounds almost exactly like the one really bad fall I've had. Mine was also on the Mt. Vernon trail when it was still a bit wet, coming down a steep hill and around a bit of a curve!! It was also as I crossed a wooden bridge, which I know are more slippery when they're wet. I was just going along and wasnt' turning that sharply when my bike seemed to just jump out from under me out of nowhere. My elbow also took a big blow (as it happened I thought "Oh sh*t I've just broken my arm 2 weeks before my triathlon!!!" [it was 2 weeks before my first tri!]). Luckily nothing was broken, but I had really bad road burn on my elbow and stomach (where my shirt came up a little as I fell). I still have bad scars in both places:( I was with my husband, but we stupidly didn't bring our phones (I think we thought since we were with each other we were fine? Who knows).

Luckily an older couple on a walk on the trail saw us and offered to give us a ride back to our car. It was SO sweet of them because I was also really shaken up. I was so badly scratched up and my stomach was so bad that it hurt to bike (because bending over hurt), so I just biked on the stationary bike in the upright position leading up to the tri, and just got on my bike once before. I was so scared of biking (down hills and in rain) for a while after that. I am finally over it but it took a really long time.

Okay sorry I just wrote you a whole novel but I couldn't help it, I totally feel for you!:(